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ICYMI: Ethiopian Food May Take Over the World

Samantha Spooner | Mail & Guardian Africa   in  ·
November 14, 2014

The large round dish is big enough to cover the width of the table, its woven round wicker “hat” covers the plate – adding to the intrigue of what is hiding underneath, giving off this heavenly aroma, thick with spices. When at last it is uncovered you can see that the tray is covered in a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture.

On it are a variety of vegetable dishes, lentil dishes, “wat” or “we’t” and milder “alicha” stews that vary in colour from yellow to deep browns tinged with red. Other dishes come along, dry grilled meats and thick “shiro” which can only be described as an earthy flavoured chickpea stew heaven. For some the assault of flavour on the palate is too much – the sourness of the injera, which offsets the spicy flavours of the dishes, proves to be a flavour combination too far, for others the thought of communal hand-to-mouth eating is the greater challenge.

Set for greater things

Even though it may not be for everyone, Ethiopian food is set to take over the world…in a manner of speaking. Already there is evidence showing a great shift in eating habits worldwide that are overcoming the barriers of communal eating. The food-sharing culture is increasingly prevalent with hot pot soups, dim sum, tapas dishes and shared starters becoming a common feature.

As for the flavour, our palates are also becoming more adventurous with huge varieties of international cuisines appearing in virtually all major cities. At present those dominating tend to be French, Thai, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Greek and Lebanese. Despite being a huge continent with a massive variety of different food, African cuisine tends not to feature very often. Nigerian restaurants do crop up occasionally, but it is Ethiopian food that will ultimately become the most widely recognised and loved African cuisine.

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